For All The Times We'll Wear It Only Once
Clothes that sit in the back of our closet do not add much value to our life. They instead contribute to inordinate amounts of waste pollution. American consumers alone generate nearly 254 million tons of waste per year—and much of this waste is is due to the fashion industry and millions of pieces of discarded textiles.
Typically, our shopping philosophy is quite measured—we look to invest in long-term staples, pieces that were made ethically, and clothing that will last 30+ wears. But when it comes to the variety of special occasion events, we are the first to admit this approach kind of goes out the window. It is the most tempting time to indulge in fast fashion.
Renting special occasion clothing is not completely environmentally friendly, as it involves a lot of dry cleaning and shipping—but it certainly beats buying pieces for just one or two wears. (As does buying consignment, giving a perfectly good piece of clothing a longer life.)
Through renting instead of buying, and by lending instead of discarding, we reduce the the millions of tons of textile waste produced each year and extend the life of the garments we use, ultimately reducing our carbon, waste, and water footprint.
1. Rent The Runway
Inventory | Designer clothing for rent
Best For | Special occasion dresses
Price Range | $30+
Rent The Runway is our favorite go-to for occasion specific renting. A wide selection of designer clothing and occasion dresses from Rebecca Minkoff, Elizabeth & James, Cynthia Rowley, and hundreds of other designers start for rent at $30. The website has user uploaded photos for each dress so you can tell how the dress fits other customers in your size/height—SO helpful! They also send you a backup size in the dress you choose. Rent The Runway has free shipping both ways and they take care of the dry cleaning.
2. Le Tote
Inventory | Monthly subscription box of clothing
Best For | Range of selection
Price Range | $59/month
Le Tote allows you to choose three garments and two accessories to be delivered to your door unlimited times each month. You wear everything, send it back, and receive your next set of options days later. This is ideal if you are constantly buying new clothing for work events (or if you’re pregnant—they have an amazing maternity wear selection). We love their range of brands, from Vince Camuto to Anthropologie and Free People. They also have free shipping both ways and handle all the dry cleaning.
Inventory | Monthly subscription box with designer pieces
Best For | Maternity rentals
Price Range | Starting at $149/month
Armoire will be your one-stop shop for the most stylish wardrobe. Each month, you’ll receive four items that are personalized just to your taste—feel free to keep, return, exchange for a different size, or even send for free cleaning for as long as you’re a member. Using the results from your personal style quiz, input from customers, and fashion trends, each box values at an average retail of $300+ per box. What we love most is that they offer maternity and after-baby pieces, so you’re truly covered no matter what life stage you’re in. At $149 a month, this is perfect for the boss lady who wants to save time and energy and gain the wardrobe of her dreams.
4. Gwynnie Bee
Inventory | Monthly subscription box
Best For | Plus size selections
Price Range | Starting at $49/month
Gwynnie Bee's online clothing subscription service allows women to be stylish and savvy every day, and provides free shipping and free exchanges. We love their selection of work, casual, and formal wear across sizes 10–32. Their packages start with a first month free and then plans range from 1 to 10 items per month. Beyond an amazing collection of clothing for rent, Gwynnie Bee has created a powerful community called The Hive where members share stories and photos of their latest wears and body positive messages.
5. Glam Corner
Inventory | Designer dresses and gowns
Best For | Plus sizes
Price Range | Starting at $39
Glam Corner, a Sydney-based dress rental service, began in 2012 and has since become one of the leading websites for Australian women to shop for designer dress and gown rentals. A Certified B Corporation, the company is passionate about offering women the experience of wearing high-end garments while also reducing the impact clothing production and consumption has on the environment—and your wallet! We especially love that Glam Corner offers inclusive sizing for all body types, including bump-friendly dresses and plus-size gown rentals.
6. Style Lend
Inventory | Designer clothing for rent
Best For | Same-day shipping in NYC and two-day shipping nationwide
Price Range | Starting at $25
Style Lend allows you to browse through thousands of unique designer items that have been hand selected from New York’s most stylish closets. You can have a special occasion piece delivered in two to three days (or within hours in NYC!). You keep the piece for seven days, and if the dress isn’t perfect, you can submit a 'Fit Return' and they will swap it in time for your event or refund you.